World number one Ash Barty beat Dayana Yastremska 6-2 7-5 to win the Adelaide International yesterday in a major boost before launching her Australian Open campaign.
Barty, who swept aside Yastremska in one hour and 25 minutes, is bidding to end Australia’s long wait for a homegrown champion at the year’s first Grand Slam. The last was Chris O’Neil, who claimed the women’s title at the 1978 tournament.
Barty broke the Ukrainian twice to win the first set but Yastremska put up stiffer resistance in the second to level it at 4-4. The Australian broke to go 6-5 up on four straight errors from the Ukrainian and served out to seal the title.
Barty had suffered a surprise defeat to American qualifier Jennifer Brady in her opener at the Brisbane International earlier this month but the title win in Adelaide was the perfect way to end her preparations for Melbourne Park.
She fired 15 winners against the wayward Yastremska, who committed 31 unforced errors.
“This is incredible,” said Barty, who punched the air and hit balls into the crowd to celebrate her first title win on home soil.
“I felt like it was a great tussle and I had to play my best to get over the line.”
“I love playing in Australia, I love playing at home.
“I can’t wait to get started in Melbourne on Monday.”
Barty won her only previous meeting with Yastremska in Miami last year.
“Congratulations to Ashleigh, it was a pleasure to play the world number one and good luck in Melbourne,” said Yastremska.
“I hope we get to play many times in the future.”
Top seed Barty begins her Australian Open campaign against Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko tomorrow.
Meanwhile, rising Kazakh talent Elena Rybakina overcame a gulf in experience to beat China’s Zhang Shuai 7-6(7) 6-3 in the Hobart International final yesterday and claim her second WTA title.
Rybakina was playing her second final in a week after losing the title-decider at the Shenzhen Open but the 20-year-old made no mistake this time around, adding the Hobart crown to the Bucharest Open title she won last July.
Zhang, 30, battled hard and held set point in the tiebreak in the opening stanza but faded after losing a fierce tussle for the sixth game of the second set.
Zhang, a quarter-finalist at Melbourne Park in 2016, had another chance to head off to the year’s first Grand Slam with a trophy in her bag but she and compatriot Peng Shuai went down 6-4 6-4 to Sania Mirza and Nadiia Kichenok in the doubles final.
It was Mirza’s first WTA title in over two years and the fifth for Ukrainian Kichenok.
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